November 18, 2014
SCHOOL: The University of Texas takes a social concept and perfects it. For the past few years, it has honored Austinites with Community Leadership Awards. The good will these gestures generate cannot be overvalued. The awards ceremonies are opportunities to embrace good news, for instance: Former Austin MayorGus Garcia was the only Latino to attend the 50th reunion of his 1959 UT class. Now, 23 percent of the freshman class is Hispanic. During a party in a spacious tent outside the Emma Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, civic leader Vincent Torres received a special nod. Community Partnership Awards went to Community Advancement Network and its leader, Vanessa Sarria, and to the Hispanic Alliance, founded and led by Monica Peraza. Central Health board of managers member Rosie Mendoza won the individual Community Leadership Circle Award, while Seton Healthcare Family chief Jesús Garza took home the Joe R. Long and Teresa Lozano Long Legacy Award. Before, during and after the honors, UT VP Gregory Vincent lauded Bill Powers, now in his final lap as UT president, for his devotion to diversity and for shaping a university recently ranked 30th in the world.
FOOD: I don’t have a favorite Chinese restaurant in Austin. My colleague, Matthew Odam, knows of some good candidates, but they tend to be located a long way from my perch in South Austin. Otherwise, for 30 years, I’ve remained unimpressed. Until now. On the basis of a tasting menu alone — which can’t tell you how a restaurant will work out in practice — I perked up for what business partners C.K. Chin and Stuart Thomajan have planned for Wu Chow, a new spot slated for the IBC Bank Building. Their chefs, Ji Peng Chenand Ling Qi Wu, both from the province of Fuzhao, cooked up a series of hot, cold and dim sum specialties, many with strong Szechuan influences. Shared these nibbles with a frisky and discerning table of guests atSwift’s Attic, Chin and Thomajan’s thriving eatery on Congress Avenue. Maybe now I can learn to make good Chinese food, given their example.